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Preview: Bayern Munich at Leipzig

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Time for the running of the Red Bulls.

Napoli v RB Leipzig - UEFA Europa League
Leipzig captain Willi Orban
Photo by Francesco Pecoraro/Getty Images

Jupp Heynckes will rotate Bayern Munich’s starting lineup in their Sunday clash with Leipzig after a busy English week. The Red Bulls meanwhile have lost much of their luster from last season, but are still cagey opponents, having advanced to the quarterfinals of the Europa League despite their latest lukewarm results in the Bundesliga.

James is back

Heynckes confirmed that James Rodriguez will be in the starting lineup on Sunday celebrating his comeback from a calf injury. While James returns, the Bavarians will be without two other midfielders: Thiago Alcantara, who suffered a foot injury after scoring the opening goal against Besiktas, and Corentin Tolisso, who is still recovering from the severe bruise he suffered against Hamburg.

Arjen Robben is also unlikely to play. He was scratched from the squad that flew to Istanbul at the last minute on account of a pinched nerve he suffered in practice. Here is how Heynckes may lineup the rest of the team:

The most likely candidates to benefit from rotation are Juan Bernat, Sebastian Rudy, and Niklas Süle. Bernat can give Franck Ribery some much needed rest on the left wing, while Rudy relieves Javi Martinez in the defensive midfield, and Süle takes the place of either Mats Hummels or, more likely, Jerome Boateng. We'll see whether Heynckes feels the same need to rotate the squad.

Tired Leipzig

The season has been a mixed bag for the Saxonian newcomers. Leipzig just advanced to the quarterfinals of the Europa League (raising the enticing prospect of an eventual meeting with feeder sister club Red Bull Salzburg), but their solid European performances have cost them the sustained success in the Bundesliga that got them there.

Leipzig have two draws and two losses in the past four Bundesliga games, dropping them to sixth place. Leipzig moreover have not defeated Bayern yet in four encounters, although they have flirted with wins in the past, including a penalty shootout in the DFB Pokal—in which Timo Werner missed the decisive goal.

In terms of Leipzig’s squad, Marcel Sabitzer—who supplanted David Alaba as 2017 Austrian footballer of the year—is doubtful. Midfielder Diego Demme suffered a light knock, and creative offensive player Emil Forsberg suffered a blow to the head.

If those players are indeed unavailable, Ralph Hasenhüttl may give 18-year-old Ademola Lookman a chance on the right wing, with Bruma holding down the left. Kevin Kampl is a strong candidate to play alongside the dynamic Naby Keita in the central midfield. On the back line, Konrad Laimer may give Bernardo some rest after his strong performance in St. Petersburg.